Charity Wings 4 Kidz – which the Late Mail Postie Bike Ride recently raised over $100,000 for – flew their first family out of Mudgee last week.
The organisation provides a free flight service for children with serious and life threatening illnesses who need to travel to the major hospitals from regional areas.
Their first flight out of Mudgee Airport was with seven-year-old Sarah Patterson and her family, taking her to chemo treatment, her story showing the value of such a service.
In February Sarah and her older sister Millie were riding their quad bike at home when it overturned. Neither were seriously injured but Sarah did suffer bruising to her back near her left kidney that no one thought anything more of at the time.
In July the family were returning from a holiday in Bridsville and stopped at a camping spot at the Darnick Gun Club where Sarah fell from a flying fox and broke her arm.
The nearby Ivanhoe Health Care One lacked x-ray facilities and Broken Hill Hospital didn’t have any beds, so Sarah and mum Jewell were flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Adelaide.
An anomaly on her abdomen was noticed, she was referred to the John Hunter Hospital where a Wilms tumour (cancerous, Stage 2 of 5) on her kidney was found, which only showed up on the x-ray because it sustained trauma from the quadbike accident and part of it died and calcified.
With the early detection and successful surgery Sarah’s prognosis is for a full recovery is 90-plus per cent and the flight on Thursday took her to her 10th weekly chemo which will continue until Christmas this year.
Wings 4 Kidz CEO, Brendan Crane, said the flight “is us giving back to Mudgee which has given us so much in terms of getting our name out there and financial support through the ride”.
He added for the Postie Bike riders there on Thursday, “it also brings it home to [locals who supported the ride] and to be able to meet the family and see what we do and how we do it, it puts a face to the charity as well”.
Mr Crane also said that after previously renting aircraft the charity had recently purchased their own plane, around the time the 2016 Late Mail Postie Bike Ride finished.
“This is an option that has become available to us because of supporters such as so many of those in Mudgee,” he said.
“Those who come out to golf days and ride postie bikes through a foot and a half of water, they’re all of the ones that are making this happen.”